Hikes and Bars in South Central Alaska
A LOOK AHEAD To make this an easy, interactive guidebook we have provided a key of content that lies ahead. This guidebook was created for those on a budget in mind. We understand traveling can be expensive, thatâ€™s why we want to make this easy on you! Our main focus is budget-friendly adventures, food, and alcoholic beverages. Within these pages you will gain an insight into the beautiful state of Alaska and we hope you fall in love it like we have, we canâ€™t rave about it enough. Adventure is out there, waiting for you! You will see these symbols throughout the pages, if you get confused come back to this page for reference!
TABLE OF History of Alaska
Pub & Grub
HI STORY Alaska is bounded by the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean to the north; Canada’s Yukon Territory and British Columbia province to the east; the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south; the Bering Strait and the Bering Sea to the west; and the Chukchi Sea to the northwest. The capital is Juneau. The history of Alaska dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period (around 14,000 BC), when wanderer groups crossed the Bering land bridge into what is now western Alaska. At the time of European contact by the Russian explorers, the area was populated by Alaska Native groups. The name “Alaska” derives from the Aleut word Alaxsxaq (also spelled Alyeska), meaning “mainland” (literally, “the object toward which the action of the sea is directed”).
The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. In the 1890s, gold rushes in Alaska and the nearby Yukon Territory brought thousands of miners and settlers to Alaska. Alaska was granted territorial status in 1912 by the United States of America. In 1942, two of the outer Aleutian Islands—Attu and Kiska—were occupied by the Japanese and their recovery for the U.S. became a matter of national pride. The construction of military bases contributed to the population growth of some Alaskan cities. Alaska was granted U.S. statehood on January 3, 1959. In 1964, the massive “Good Friday earthquake” killed 131 people and leveled villages. The 1968 discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay and the 1977 completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline led to an oil boom. -wikipedia.com
LOCAL LOOK The locals of Alaska are what makes it unique. When walking down the street it is easy to spot out the locals versus tourists. Most people think Alaskans live in igloos, ride polar bears to work, and have no electricity. Some of this may be true for rural villages, but in the more populated regions of Alaska this is far from the truth. Now we aren’t saying all locals look and act the same way, but we want to be able to fit in with the locals! Clothing
By looking at clothing you can easily spot out a local. Commonly seen in Extra Tufs and always in camping/fishing gear they can’t be missed. Extra Tufs are an Alaskan staple, perfect for fishing, camping, clamming, etc., almost every Alaskan owns a pair and wears them for everyday use. Carhartts are another Alaskan favorite because they are versatile, they look good on a night out on the town and practical when going camping, fishing or hiking. You never know when you will be needed for an impromptu adventure! It is all about being comfortable in Alaska, even in a fancy restaurant there will be someone wearing “Alaskan Casual.”
Now this may seem like a weird thing to say, but Alaskans do have their own slang. Break-up season does not mean its the time everyone breaks up with their significant other, to Alaskans it is the season between winter and spring when all of the snow is melting and it looks disgusting outside. When you hear “the slope” Alaskans are talking about working on the oil rig up north. Also, we call it a snowmachine, not a snowmobile because lets be honest, a snowmobile doesn’t sound as cool.
Only in Anchorage can you meet a moose, walk on a glacier and explore a vast, natural park all in a single day. Between mountains and an inlet, Anchorage combines the best of Alaska in a city that has the comforts of home and the hospitality of the Last Frontier. -anchorage.net
Known as the largest float plane base in the world, it is a great place for amazing views of the Chugach Mountain Range and watching planes land and take off on the lake. We recommend this because it is free to wander around, but if you want to catch a seaplane for sight seeing there are plenty of companies options from the lake. We recommend Rustâ€™s Flying Service!
If you want to taste and see local food, crafts, and arts then this is the place for you! Located in Downtown Anchorage, it is a great blend of local works. The salmon quesodillas are amazing so we highly recommend them to have while you are there.. Do keep in mind they are only open during the summer on Saturday and Sundays.
If you havenâ€™t heard of geocaching you are missing out! The reason it is so amazing is you get to adventure around the town for free. There are plenty of geocaching sites in and around Anchorage that will give you a quick glimpse of local life, wildlife, and nature. Free and fun?! Sounds like an awesome adventure!
Renting a car during the summer in Alaska is very expensive so one way to travel is by train to other cities. You get a amazing views while on the train and the train is reasonably priced, the trains are busy though.
Flattop Mountain is located in the Chugach State Park, right on the outskirts of Anchorage. Known for it’s “flattop” it soars up to 3,245 feet. This hike is a local favorite! If you catch blueberry season make sure to stop and pick some blueberries and do have pepper spray on hand, bears are known to wander these mountains. The trail is a 3.3 mile loop, you will get a 360 degree view of the Chugach Mountain range Anchorage and the Cook Inlet.
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail spans eleven miles from Downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park and runs along the Cook Inlet. Easily one of most beautiful and accessible trails for biking, running, or walking. Along the trail you will run into Earthquake Park, which was one of the most devastated areas after the 1964 earthquake so stop and look.
Eagle & Symphony Lake
The hike starts in Eagle River, only a short thirty minute drive from Anchorage. Eagle Lake is a 4.8 mile hike and Symphony Lake is 6 miles one way. If you want to make this into a camping trip there are many pull-offs along the way to pitch a tent, but do pack protection from bears!.
Expanding twenty-seven miles long and four miles wide, Matanuska Glacier is a breathtaking valley glacier that you donâ€™t want to miss. Although this glacier is about an hour and half away from Anchorage, it is an easy drive to make. There are plenty of companies that provide glacier hiking tours, which we would highly recommend! Itâ€™s not everyday you get to trek on glacier silt and ice.
Found on the drive to Wasilla, this hike is a nice leisurely two miles hike. You will be rewarded with a view of Thunderbird Falls at the end of the hike. There are a ton of mosquitoes on the trail so make sure to bring bug spray! If you have a family this would be a great hike because it is well trafficked and not too long.
Bird Ridge Trail
You will definitely earn a large breakfast after this hike! A 4.6 mile out-and-back trail that will get the heart pumping. Best time to hike it is between April and November and you will be rewarded with a sweeping view of the Chugach Mountain Range. Make sure to pack plenty of water, food, and pepper spray for the hike because there are bears. .
Reed Lakes Trail
A 8.7 round trip out-and-back trail that will lead to a lake. It is best to hike this trail between April and October. Located in Hatchers Pass, an hour and fifteen minute drive would be well worth it because the drive alone will give you breathtaking views.
GRUB Moose’s / Bear’s Tooth
Do you want to eat the third best pizza in the United States?! Then this is the place to get it! Known for their crazy combinations and insane flavors, Moose’s Tooth is the place to go. Owned by the same people, Bear’s Tooth has a theatre so you can eat pizza, watch a movie, and enjoy a nice refreshing beer, but they do have regular seating too! Moose’s Tooth is more restaurant style, but be warned, they are always packed so make reservations!
Although the price is expensive, it is well worth the price. Known for some of the best seafood in Anchorage, their food is phenominal. We highly suggest the Seafood Chowder, Calamari, and Creme Brulee for dessert.
Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse Hands down they have the best halibut in Anchorage! Their brunch on the weekend is delicious, especially their King Crab Cake Benedict.
Snow City Cafe
Yes, President Obama did make a special visit to this restaurant/bakery when he came and visted Anchorage! Even the President couldn’t resist the food and baked goods at Snow City Cafe.
PUB Chilkoot Charlie’s
A two-story nightclub that features DJ’s, comedians and live music. To top it off, the drinks are reasonably priced. There are ten different bars inside, each with their own unique vibe and atmosphere. Something for everyone’s taste, we recommend stopping by the Bird House Bar, it is known for all the bras hanging around the room. Weird? Maybe, but Anchorage likes to keep things interesting.
Partially inside and outside this bar is known for its delicious, one-of-a-kind martinis. This bar has hookah, live entertainment, food, and alcohol makes for a fun, enjoyable night ahead.
A quaint laid-back event and bar location in Downtown Anchorage. During the day Willawaw hosts many local events, but at night their roof-top bar is alive and pumping. If you want a chill bar scene this is the place to go!
49th State Brewing Company
They have a pretzel as big as your face and tons of local beers on tap, sounds like the perfect bar and restaurant! Their halibut fish and chips paired with a large glass of local beer is a local favorite. By day this is a normal restaurant, by at night it turns into a great local bar.
Winner Creek Trail
Known as a resort town, Girdwood is home to Alyeska, which hosts some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Alaska. It is located on Turnagain Arm and beloved by Alaskans for its chill, laid-back small town feel.
This trail includes a hand tram over Glacier Creek. The lower Winner Creek Trail is an easy 3-mile hike, you can start at Creek Mine or by the Alyeska Tram. If you wish for a shorter hike start near Crow Creek Mine.
After a day of snowboarding, skiing or hiking nothing is better than chowing down on good pizza. Chair 5 offers delicious Alaskan dishes, but they are best known for their pizza.
The Ice Cream Shop
Nothing is better than ending your day with a big scoop of ice cream! They are known for their Alaska themedw flavors, our favorite is the Fireweed and Honey ice cream, yum!
There are no campgrounds directly in Girdwood, so we would recommend treating yourself to a luxurious stay at Alyeska Resort. We highly recommend you take the tram to the top of Alyeska, during the summer or winter to see mesmerizing views of the Turnagain Arm and Girdwood.
Sitzmark Bar & Grill
Looking for a place to drink at night? This is the best bar in Girdwood! Regularly hosting small bands this bar is a local favorite, so be prepared to meet a lot of locals while there.
The small city of Seward is nestled at the foot of Mount Marathon along the scenic shoreline of Resurrection Bay, a restless, fickle body of water teeming with abundant species of fish and amazing marine mammals. -Seward.com
Kayaking in Resurrection Bay
Want to say you have kayaked in Resurrection Bay? Now is your chance! You have the opportunity to paddle alongside sea otters and even whales. We recommend renting from Millerâ€™s Landing for only $45 a day for a single and $55 for a double, if you are not experienced they do offer guided trips for a fairly decent price.
Seward Boat Harbor
Now this may seem like an odd suggestion, but totally worth seeing the Alaskan fisherman experience. There are a lot of tourist attractions in Seward, but they are expensive, but walking around the boat harbor is a nice walk into local life. If you are lucky enough to be there during a tournament you can view the weighing and filleting of fish, and the hustle and bustle of the harbor. There are usually sea otters floating about in the harbor to see and fun to look at the many ships docked.
HIKES Harding Icefield Trail
Located in the Kenai Fjords National Park this trail includes hiking in the forest, and in snow, finally ending with a spectacular view of Exit Glacier. If you decide to go the whole way it is 9.7 miles out-and-back, but you can turn around anytime and still have a great view. Be careful to not hike it during avalance season because they will close the trail.
Lost Lakes Trail
A 13.8 miles out-and-back trail that leads to a beautiful lake. Since this is a long hike we highly suggest camping for one night to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of this hike.
Caines Head Trail
A total of 14 miles roundtrip gives you a great view of wildlife, nature, and Resurrection Bay. For this hike you must time it with the tides or else you wonâ€™t be able to complete the trail and will be stranded. You do not have to complete the whole trip to get great views, so it is easy to turn around at any time to end the hike.
BITES & BREWS
Craving homemade gelato, taffy, chocolates or fudge? Then this is the place for you! All made at the shop and oh so delicious!
A waterfront seafood restaurants that boasts a ton of good seafood dishes and alcoholic beverages. Do expect more money here because it is quite expensive, but you canâ€™t beat fresh seafood! We recommend the Smoked Scallop Mac and Cheese.
A relaxed bar that has bar games to play and decently priced alcoholic beverages. The $2 mystery shots are offered if you are unsure of what you want or want to live a little on the wild side and try a mystery shot.
Talkeetna is home to the convergence of three major glacial rivers, which makes for great excursions, whether by air, land or by water. Just outside of town, visitors can walk to the waterfront and marvel at the mighty Susitna River. -Alaska.org
Fishing on Susitna River
Did you go to Alaska if you didnâ€™t go fishing? Alaska boasts the best fishing in the country. Talkeetna is a tourist town so it is quite expensive thats why we suggest fishing here because it is fairly inexpensive. Either you can try it on your own or they have guided trips.
Denali Brewing Co.
Want great local beer? Find it here! They are well known throughout the state and reasonably so. We suggest trying the sampler so you can try all of their great beers. and they even have great food.
Walk Talkeetna Spur Road
This is the main strip of Talkeetna, we suggest doing this because there are plenty of local shops to stop at and get the feel of local life. Fun fact, the mayor of Talkeetna was a cat called Mr.Stubbs, so this is one quirky town. There are tons of local food to try and many shops to stop and buy souvenirs.
Want a delicious breakfast before your adventures? This is the place for you then! You get a ton of food for a good price, so you will be satisfied while not breaking your wallet. Their baked goods are well known so make sure to show up early.
Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Denali is North America’s tallest peak, 20,310’ Denali. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await.
A cozy restaurant near Denali National Park and Reserve. It has Eastern European food and their crepes are delicious! Also, if you are craving an alcoholic beverage their sangrias are good!
229 Parks Restaurant & Tavern
Kesugi Ridge Trail
Although this is not located in Denali National Park we highly recommend it because you will get the best view of Denali without going into the park. What is tricky about the park is you cannot drive yourself through it, you have to hike or take a guided bus into the park. So the best view without all the hassle! Added bonus, they have an amazing campsite right by the beggining of the trail. You do not have to go the whole 29.2 miles for an amazin view.
An upscale dining experience that offers delicious Alaska food and alcohol. They are expensive, but thats going to be at any place near Denali National Park. We recommend their delicious oysters, you won’t regret it!
Wonder Lake Trail
You will have to take the bus to the start point of this hike, but it will be worth it on a clear day when you see Denali. It is an easy two mile hike and their is a campground there if you want to spend the night!
We want you to know everything that is offered in Southcentral Alaska, therefore we want to include some other amazing places to visit on your trip. You will thank us later for the recommendations. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Although this is a very touristy thing to do, it is a must! If you want to see the wildlife of Alaska then come visit this conservation center. What makes it so great is the animals are put here for rehabilitation and then released back to the wild.
Portage Glacier/ Byron Glacier
The reason these two are put together is because they are close to each other and short hikes, both can be done in just one day!
Gull Rock Trail
A hike out of Hope, Alaska it is the ultimate hike if you want to experience the outback of Alaska. 11 miles round-trip this hike is worth it! There are camp sites at the end of the trail if you decide to make it into a camping trip. We would highly suggest pepper spray because you will be hiking in bear country, be prepared!
Kaladi Brothers Coffee
Are you a coffee connoisseur? Well this is the best local coffee in Alaska! You didnâ€™t visit if you didnâ€™t try their coffee.
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A South Central Alaska Guidebook of the best hikes, bars, and food in the area.